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Mar 222017
 

Hanna-Barbera is best known for its animated shows with the occasional live action series. It turns out that there was an old series that combined both called The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1968-1969). It’s about Tom Sawyer (Kevin Schultz), Huckleberry Finn (Michael Shea), and Becky Thatcher (LuAnn Haslam) ending up in an animated world while on the run from their nemesis Injun Joe (Ted Cassidy) in a mysterious cave. Their goal is to get back home to their hometown Hannibal, Missouri.

When I first saw this show on the Boomerang channel a while back, I was fascinated that it had live actors in an animated world like in such movies as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Cool World, and Space Jam. I always liked that concept.

Another interesting point is about Injun Joe. The three young heroes always end up someplace different and the animated antagonist always has a very striking resemblance to Injun Joe, right down to the chain and handcuff on his right wrist. Ted Cassidy voices each villain. As much as I liked his role of Lurch from The Addams Family, it’s good to see him doing a different range of characters too. Despite that the live action version of Injun Joe is only in the intro of every episode.

In addition to that, after the villain is defeated (sometimes ending in death) Injun Joe easily comes back as someone else. This leads to number of theories, from the whole series being one long dream to Injun Joe having some kind of supernatural power we know nothing about. Whatever the reason, it makes for an interesting episode formula.

The only other show I know of that used that tactic was Back to the Future the animated series (1991-1993). Whenever the protagonists travel back to any time period, they always run into an ancestor of Biff Tannen, who always calls Marty McFly a butthead at least once. I always found that interesting.

Back to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I also would like to point out that even though Tom, Becky, and Huck are the only non-animated characters, there are times when they are animated at a distance. Particularly when a stunt double is required. It’s so clever how that works.

This was certainly a great series overall, especially with its unique method of real actors in animated worlds. What could’ve made this DVD set better was if there had been a special feature about how the series was put together. Unfortunately, there are none.

May 302012
 

The Addams Family – The Complete Series (1964-1966) is not exactly your typical household. Inside a spooky mansion near the cemetery resides the wealthy and highly enthusiastic Gomez Addams (John Astin), his lovely wife Morticia (Carolyn Jones), and their two children Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) and Wednesday (Lisa Loring).

The Addams Family are best known for their unique outlook on life. They see things like torture devices and man-eating plants to be normal and nice things like flowers and cute puppies to be alarming, which is the exact opposite of everyone else’s outlook. However, the Addamses are always hospitable in their own way, no matter who their houseguests are. Too bad it always sends them running, leaving the Addamses puzzled.

Other relatives living at the mansion are Grandmama (Blossom Rock) a witch who can conjure up spells and potions, and Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) who has the ability to power a light bulb with his mouth. He’s a bit eccentric, but a likeable character.

On a side note: When Uncle Fester comes to mind, I tend to think of the NES game Fester’s Quest, which is about Uncle Fester fighting aliens from outer space with a plunger shaped gun and other items provided by other Addams family members. Sorry, but Uncle Fester doesn’t fight aliens on this show. Fester does have a gun, but he never uses it except for when he threatens to shoot people in the back. He prefers that instead of a fair duel.

I’d have to say that one of my most favorite characters is Lurch (Ted Cassidy) the butler. He always speaks in a bass tone and never shows any personality. Lurch is usually summoned with a bell pull that looks like a hangman’s noose, then he casually arrives and responds with his famous catchphrase, “You rang?” The bell is always so loud it shakes the room, yet no one is affected. That’s why it’s so hilarious whenever it’s mentioned that Lurch can hardly hear it.

Although Lurch hardly speaks and has super strength and a somewhat frightening appearance, he does have a sentimental side also, which mostly shows when Lurch plays his harpsichord. He sure does enjoy it.

And let’s certainly not forget Thing the family pet. He’s a living hand that appears out of boxes and other containers. Thing is always willing to lend a hand for anyone. (Pun intended.) However, I never realized that Thing was actually a disembodied hand until I saw the first Addams Family movie, when he’s not always contained.

On occasion, Cousin Itt (Felix Silla) visits the Addams household. He’s a hairy creature that’s a total genius and always speaks in speedy gibberish. Surprisingly, the Addamses can understand Itt efficiently.

The Addamses have many relatives. In later episodes, one of the more common family members that visit (other than Cousin Itt) is Morticia’s older sister Ophelia (Carolyn Jones), but only when she has relationship troubles and Ophelia is unlucky in love. Could it be because of the daises in her hair that are rooted deep down into her legs? Or maybe it’s because she uses her judo too harshly? And to think that Gomez was originally set up to marry Ophelia in an arranged marriage. He made the right decision to marry Morticia instead.

I must admit that this show is still hilarious after all these years. Recently at Spooky Empire’s MAY-HEM 2012, I met several of the cast members. Check my blog for part 2 to find out more.